Victor Font, who once challenged Joan Laporta for the Barcelona presidency, pulled no punches when discussing the botched handling of Lionel Messi’s exit. He raised the topic while scrutinizing the club’s fiscal statistics, which were recently unveiled by Barca’s economic Vice President Eduard Romeu.
Messi, who was 34 when he bid adieu to the club, had worn Barca colors for a staggering 20 years after touching down from Argentina as a teenager. Over those years, he not only shattered records but became synonymous with the club’s brand.
His staggering 672 goals in 778 appearances, four Champions League trophies, and 11 La Liga titles painted him as Barcelona’s biggest legend. It is also impossible to ignore the six Ballon d’Or awards he pocketed as a Barca player.
The Catalan giants found themselves in a bad financial situation, shackled by a gargantuan debt load of €1.35 billion. Years of reckless financial decisions coupled with the economic blowback from the COVID-19 pandemic had left them scraping the bottom of the barrel.
As a result, Barca were forced to watch Lionel Messi decamp to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. The prodigal son was even speculated to make a triumphant return to Camp Nou after a Parisian journey of two years. However, even then, Barcelona’s stumbling financial foundation offered him no assurances, propelling him towards the MLS.
In an unforgiving assessment, Victor Font proclaimed (quotes via SPORT):
“One of the biggest mistakes was Messi’s farewell. Xavi was crazy for him to come back this summer and it wasn’t to be. Because of these things, the management model needs to be changed. The Barca-Messi partnership should never have been broken. With him, the numbers we’ve seen would be better.”
Lionel Messi shuts down rumors of short-term Barcelona return in early 2024
Lionel Messi has decisively quashed any rumors about a temporary return to Camp Nou for the early part of 2024. Given Barca’s precarious financial situation, any temporary agreement with Messi would have been akin to hitting the jackpot for the La Liga titans.
However, Messi shattered such hopes after playing for Argentina against Peru earlier this week. When queried about the potential of a Barcelona comeback, he said (via Sporstmole h/t ESPN):
He also revealed his plan to get some rest:
“It’s the first time that I am going to have more days off in December, with the holidays, with peace of mind, with my people. In January, I will return again to do pre-season. Start from scratch and prepare as best as possible as always.”
Lionel Messi’s journey in the USA with Inter Miami has been nothing short of illuminating, racking up 11 goals and five assists in 13 appearances.